EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — It’s early, and it was against mostly second- and third-string defenders, but Timothy Wright had a solid outing Thursday night for someone who just joined the Patriots Tuesday.
The tight end, acquired as part of the trade that saw Logan Mankins shipped to Tampa Bay, started and played about half of the snaps in the 16-13 loss to the Giants.
He was targeted six times by Jimmy Garoppolo, including the first play of the game, and had four catches for 43 yards.
A rookie free agent last year, Wright had 54 catches for 571 yards and five touchdowns with the Buccaneers. Listed at 6 feet 4 inches and 220 pounds, he is the “move” tight end the Patriots have needed since Aaron Hernandez was released.
The 24-year-old called being sent to New England a “great opportunity. Great organization. Great coaches.”
Asked about being thrown into the mix quickly, Wright said, “It’s a business. Football is football. There are great coaches to get me ready.”
Garoppolo liked what he saw from his newest teammate.
“Very intelligent player,’’ said the rookie quarterback. “He picks it up very quickly. He’s pretty athletic, too. He had a heck of a game.’’
The stars were out
The Patriots dressed just about everyone Thursday night, but after warm-ups, a good number of those players left their helmets in the locker room and were merely spectators.
Garoppolo started, and Tom Brady spent part of the first quarter sitting on the bench, looking at field photos in a blue three-ring binder. Similarly, James Develin was spotted scrolling through photos on a tablet and talking to running back Jonas Gray, and Shane Vereen was holding a clipboard.
Jamie Collins also had a Surface tablet, distinguishable by the blue protective case, strapped to his hand.
In all, 21 players were in uniform but never played.
Though Brady held on a PAT, none of the others players saw the field, but there were a few others who made their preseason debuts.
There were 10 players who did not make the trip: linebackers Jerod Mayo and Dont’a Hightower, tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Michael Hoomanawanui, offensive linemen Sebastian Vollmer and Chris Martin, running back Brandon Bolden, and defensive tackles Dominique Easley, Chris Jones, and Sealver Siliga.
In addition to Wright, two others played their first preseason snaps. Receiver Aaron Dobson, who missed most of training camp as he recovered from offseason foot surgery, did not start but played and scored on a 33-yard pass from Garoppolo. Rookie Bryan Stork, who also had to sit out a good chunk of camp with an injury, started at center.
Ex-Eagle flying high
Former Boston College star running back Andre Williams saw snaps with the first-team offense for the Giants and had a 38-yard run on the third drive of the game, the first with backup Ryan Nassib at quarterback.
New York picked Williams, the Doak Walker Award winner as college football’s best running back last fall, in the fourth round — 113th overall.
With David Wilson forced into retirement because of a neck injury, Williams is expected to play a pretty significant role for New York with fellow back Rashad Jennings, the projected starter. New York’s passing game has struggled in the preseason but the ground game has looked solid, so the two stand to get a lot of carries.
Williams rushed for a team-high 44 yards on just five carries.
Before the game, Brady was at midfield catching up with former teammates Larry Izzo, the Giants’ assistant special teams coach, and Matt Chatham, who worked the game as sideline reporter for WBZ-TV . . . In the statistical department: safety Nate Ebner led the Patriots with 11 tackles; Jake Bequette and rookie Zach Moore each recorded a sack; and rookie James White had 29 rushing yards on 11 carries and two catches for 32 yards . . . Among NFL teams, the Giants might have the highest number of players who played at New England colleges with eight: Williams, defensive ends Mark Herzlich and Mathias Kiwanuka from Boston College; receivers Victor Cruz and Julian Talley and running back Michael Cox from UMass; long snapper Zak DeOssie from Brown; and tackle Will Beatty from Connecticut. They also had Southern Connecticut tight end Jerome Cunningham in camp, but he was cut Tuesday . . . This is the 10th straight year the Patriots and Giants have met in the final week of the preseason; it was their 24th exhibition meeting overall, making the Giants the Patriots’ most frequent exhibition opponent.Shalise Manza Young can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.